El Escorial is claimed by some Spanish to be the Eighth Wonder of the World due to it's
sheer size. It was built between 1563 and 1584 to the designs of architect Juan Bautista
de Toledo and master builder Juan de Herrera.
King Philip II decided to build it to commemorate a victory against the French on August 10,
1557 [Feast day of St Lawrence]and to fulfil a promise he made to his Dad, Charles V, who
asked him to build a special royal mausoleum to house all the dead kings and their mothers.
The whole design of the monastery, palace and basilica resemble the grill on which St
Lawrence was martyred. He was roasted alive and, according to some, he even told his
executioners to turn him over, one side was ready.
Around the Escorial you will see the grill symbol [St
Lawrence's attribute] and a few paintings of the St
Lawrence's martrydom. Keep your eyes open!
Imagine living where you'll also be lying dead. King
Philip II basically slept above his grave.
One local legend is that one of the King's secretaries
stole part of the treasure set aside for payment for the
building works. As he was escaping over the
surrounding hills he was trapped in quicksand and the
treasure and he were lost. It is said that the statue of
St Lawrence above the main entrance is looking in the direction of the exact spot where
the secretary met his demise.